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Positive Guidance Techniques (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Apr 30, 2014

Ignore Non-Disruptive Inappropriate Behavior

Children who behave inappropriately often receive the most attention from adults. Children who chronically misbehave are usually convinced that the only way they can get attention is through negative actions. While some behaviors cannot be ignored (unsafe or hurtful actions), some simply annoying ones can be safely overlooked. By ignoring these behaviors, the child will eventually see there is no gain in using that language or that behavior, and it may not be repeated.

  • Limit attention to children who are used to negative responses from adults.
  • "Catch the child being good" and then use effective praise when children are engaging in desired behaviors. Too often children get attention for inappropriate behaviors and are left alone when they are playing appropriately or when things are quiet and controlled in early childhood settings.

Offer Choices

Offering choices gives children some control over their own behavior, shows respect for them as individuals, and encourages independence. When children are given options to choose from, they are more likely to cooperate and meet classroom expectations.

"It's time to clean up the house area. Which will you put away, the dishes or the dolls?"

Redirect and Offer Acceptable Substitutes

  • Give children acceptable alternatives rather than telling them what they cannot choose.
  • Privately (quietly so just that child can hear) remind the child of the classroom rule and then redirect by offering an alternative or giving a choice.

    "Mohammed, it's not safe to pull the rolling pin away from Mariah. Mariah is using that rolling pin right now. Pick another toy until she is done."

    "Bobbie is sitting there, Susie. Remember, there is only one child on a carpet square. You need to find another seat. Tomorrow you can have a turn sitting next to me."

    "Blocks are for building. You can make a house or a barn or a road for the trucks."

  • When necessary, remove the child from the problem area and redirect to another activity.

    "Julie, you're having trouble sharing the blocks. I can't let you hurt other people by pushing. It's not so crowded at the water table. I think you might have fun there. We have some new toys there. Let's go to the water table."

Facilitate Problem Solving with Children

Children can be taught a problem-solving process to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Below are ways teachers can help children to work through five steps to problem solving:

  • What is the problem?
  • What can you do?
  • What might happen if . . . ?
  • Choose a solution and use it.
  • Is it working?

Use Logical Consequences

Logical consequences make an obvious connection between children's behavior and the disciplinary action that follows. As logical consequences are being carried out, adults remind children of the rule and why the consequence is necessary. They do so matter-of-factly, without humiliating or threatening children. Logical consequences are reasonable, respectful, and related to the behavior.

Logical consequences typically take one of three forms:

  1. Rehearsal of a desired behavior

    "Ruben, I can see you didn't wash your hands before you sat down for lunch. You need to keep yourself safe and wash away germs before you eat. Please go wash your hands now and then come back to the table."

  2. Restitution—making amends for misbehavior

    "Jeffrey, I cannot let you draw in the book. We need to take care of books and keep them safe. You need to get an eraser and erase the pencil marks. Would you like some help?"

  3. Temporary loss of privilege

    "Alex, I reminded you that it wasn't safe to splash your friends at the water table. You will have to find another place to play today. Tomorrow you can play again at the water table if you remember the Safety Rule."

When a new consequence is being applied or a situation is new for a given child, give one clear reminder or warning before applying the consequence.

"Remember, the ball must stay in the play yard. If you throw the ball over the fence again, you will have to play with something else."

Once a rule and its consequence are well-known to the children, the consequence should be stated and applied in a matter-of-fact way immediately following an infraction, without blame, criticism, or extended discussion. Primary grade children can be involved in determining the consequences for behavior. One first-grade group developed the following consequences (Letts, 1997).

Problem Consequences
Noisy during assemblies Practice walking, sitting in auditorium
  Stay back from the assembly
Hitting or bullying others Private "tutoring" after school to learn and practice alternative skills
  Social contract with student, parents and principal
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